Robert Downey (Jr)
- Rob Lowe, St Elmo’s Fire, 1984. Directors John Hughes and Joel Schumacher were rather like Lucas and Spielberg in the 70s: dipping into the same age talent pool. The Brat Packers Hughes kept in the high school Breakfast Club, Schumacher made, as here, college kids. When Hughes said “Why can’t I make movies like The Lost Boys, Joel?” Schumacher would reply: “Why can’t I make Pretty in Pink?” The answer was different school experiences. Joel’s was “drinking at nine, smoking at 10, sexually active at 11....”
- Tom Cruise, Top Gun, 1985. In serious contention the US Navy pilot ace called Maverick So were Jim Carrey, Tom Hanks Rob Lowe, Charlie Sheen, Eric Stoltz.
- Jon Cryer, Pretty In Pink, 1985. John Hughes’ regular leading man - teen! - passed on being Duckie as the film seemed little more than a reworking of his first Hughes experience, Sixteen Candles, 1983. Junior Downey was also auditioned.
- Matthew Broderick, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,1986. Considered for Ferris. As were: Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, John Cusack, Johnny Depp, Michael J Fox, Eric Stolz.
- John Cusack, Say Anything, 1989. Turned down the lead inwriter-director Cameron Crowe’s third movie.
- William Baldwin, Backdraft, 1990. Tested for firefighter Brian McCaffrey. So did Dermot Mulroney, Brad Pitt and Keanu Reeves. But director Ron Howard felt Baldwin looked more like Kurt Russell’s brother Downey’s test was among 54 such tapes banned from auction in Beverly Hills by the actors’ union in April 2013. “Auditions are not public performances,” said t SAG-AFTRA. “Performers are entitled to expect them to remain private.” And yet they had been seen…when Paramount's Real TV tabloid show starting running such audition tapes…in 1995!
- James Spader, Bad Influence, 1990. Due for the victim of a murderous Nicolas Cage
- Johnny Depp, Edward Scissorhands, 1990. Good thinking! Instead, this magical role of just 169 words proved the naissance of a great collaboration: Depp and Tim Burton: six movies by 2007.
- John Cusack, The Grifters, 1990. “In truth, “ said director Stephen Frears, “it was between him and Robert Downey... and I just had a feeling for John... just a very good actor.. He was good by about 5pm, so I shot all his scenes around then. Mornings, he was hopeless. He was really relieved I hadn't seen any of what he called his teen films.John's dad once told me it was a relief for their family because John had left for Hollywood aged 16 and had got to behave like a teenager in films instead of being moody all around the house.”
- William Baldwin, Three of Hearts,1992. Tough choices! Instead of a male hustler hired by a lesbian to make her lover jealous, he chose his father’s Too Much Sun - about a millionaire’s gay son and lesbian daughter trying to earn their inheritance by producing an heir. Ah!
- Charlie Sheen, The Three Musketeers, 1993. Chased by Tri-Star to be Aramis in an unsuccessful bid to stop the Disney version… which also chased him.
- Steven Weber, Jeffrey, 1995. Most actors refused writer Paul Rudnik’s comic lead ofa gay turning celibate to avoid AIDS.
- John Leguizamo, To Wong Fu, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar,1995. He joined the legions testing in drag for the Steven Spielberg production.
- Matt Dillon, Wild Things, 1997. Actor-producer Kevin Bacon was willing but his backers expected Downey (straight out of rehab) to pay the seven-figure insurance premium on his head. Ciao baby!
- Paul Rudd, The Object of My Affection, 1997. Up for the gay friend of a pregnant Sarah Jessica Parker (before Jennifer Aniston won the rôle). UK veteran Nigel Hawthorne stole the entire movie as a character not in Stephen McCauly’s novel. Chicago’s ace critic Roger Ebert called it a seriocom - “the worst kind of sitcom - a serious one.”
- Robert Carlyle,Angela’s Ashes, 1999. Downey’s agent, Ed Limato, sent it over to the jail where Bob was held on drug related charges.... Oh, Hollywood!
- Josh Brolin, The Hollow Man, 2000. Rather than the title role which the suits would have begged him to play 12 years later, Downey had little hesitation is passing on the new lover of the invisible Kevin Bacon’s ex, Elisabeth Shue. Critic Roger Ebert said the mess deserved a niche in the Underachievement Hall of Fame. Downey added: “I tend to smell the end result of faulty process pretty acutely.”
- Hank Azaria, America's Sweethearts, 2001. Fresh out of jail and back into stardom in Ally McBeal, Downey was to be Catherine Zeta-Jones’ “Latin” lover when he was arrested yet again... Such baggage was too heavy for what appeared an uncredited re-hash of the UK’s Simon and Laura, 1955 - as publicist Billy Crystal fools the media into believing that the star couple (John Cusack and Zeta-Jones) are in love when they despise one another. Ace critc Roger Ebert saw it as a new spin on Singin’ in the Rain, even listing who plays who’s 1951 rôle. Such as Julia Roberts and Billy Crystal as Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor. Oh really? Only Azaria was new to the plot - and a bigger Hollywood cliché than the rest of ’em being sent up.
- Johnny Knoxville, Men in Black II, 2001. Not yet Iron Man (or Sherlock Holmes), Downey (and Keanu Reeves) auditioned for Scrad/Charlie, a two-headed alien working for Serleena, the shapeshifting Kylothian who has taken the form of a lingerie model (played Lara Flynn Boyle). Honest.
- Justin Kirk, Angels In America, TV, 2003. Director Robert Altman chose Downey (and indeed Al Pacino, who remained as Roy Cohn) before Tony Kushner’s brilliant two-part play went through various directors until ending as an HBO TV mini-series from Mike Nichols.
- Will Ferrell, Melinda & Melinda, 2004. Bob considered suing Woody Allen for dropping him. Downey pals called Woody a cheap showman. “He knew exactly how much it would cost to insure Robert for this film,” went their argument. “He said it was fine. Robert turned down other jobs for this film... even went to the insurance physical - and passed. He did everything. And then, all of a sudden, Woody comes out publicly and says he's too expensive to insure. Bullshit!”
- Sam Rockwell, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 2005.
- David Morrissey, Basic Instinct 2, 2005. Apparently discussed the role ofthe shrink Dr Glasswith Sharon Stone's manager during a game of tennis - the week before he was busted for drugs. He was thoroughly rehabbed by the time they got around to making a right dog’s breakfast of it in London. As in: What can she do for an encore? “I let myself down,” said Morrissey. “When it came out… I didn’t want to leave the house.It was a very bruising experience.”
- Matthew Lillard, What Love Is, 2007. Encore! Or that was the plan after thefine double act of Val Kilmer and Robert in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 2005.
- Mark Ruffalo, Shutter Island, 2009. Far too busy - Iron Man2 and Sherlock Holmes - when director icon Martin Scorsese and his (fourth time) star, Leonardo Di Caprio offered rhe role of Leo’s cop partner, Chuck Aule. "I feel like I was the opening band at Woodstock," Downey said of all the Marvel superheroes that followed Iron Man . Except he as more triumphant, making $75m from Iron Man 3.
- Will Ferrell, Megamind, 2009. Downey and Ben Stiller were approached for Megamind, a kinda Lex Luthor, versus a kinda Superman (Brad Pitt as Metroman). They were busy. Unfortunately, Ferrell was not.
- Daniel Craig, Cowboys and Aliens, 2010. Guy Ritchie’s fault... The Iron Man series star and director (Jon Favreau) were due to ignite the 2006 graphic novel.... until Downey swept his schedule clear for any a sequel to his and Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, 2009. According to scenarist-producer Alex Kurtzman, Downey’s Cowboys was to have been a much sillier movie.
- James Franco, Oz the Great and Powerful, 2012. Disneyland is no Oz. Yet having lost a bundle on the depressing Return To Oz, 1984, the Mouse House primed the pump anew for this dangerously titled tale of how a Kansas con-man magician became The Wiz. A stranger in a stranger land, the ineffectual Franco is basically playing Dorothy, which is, perhaps, why Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr were not.
- George Clooney, Gravity, 2011.
Mexican auteur Alfonso Cuaron talked “with a bunch of people. Probably one of the most serious ones was with Robert… [But] it was clear that the technology and Robert are incompatible. Part of the magic of Robert is that he changes everything all the time. You cannot take Robert Downey and say, ‘This is your frame of work, and you have 25 seconds to deliver your line and while you’re doing it, you have to be pushing that button to the left.’ We both understood it.” Despite the 2002 flop of his Solaris, Clooney eagerly returned to science fiction in the 3D special written by Cuaron and his son, Jonas. The film had already been delayed for a year to allow Sandra Bullock to complete Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close with Tom Hanks “A satellite blows up, and space junk causes damage,” explained Clooney. “We go out in space suits, and (Sandra) and I are tethered together, floating through space. It’s a two-hander... only two actors in the whole film. It’s a very odd film, really. Two people in space. No monsters. More like 2001 than an action film.”
- Ty Burrel, Mr Peabody & Sherman, 2012. Downey’s name was run up the DreamWorks flagpole for voicing Mr. Peabody. Who. Is. A. Dog. Not even an Iron Dog. But, yes, the most amazing dog in history. With his own time machine. And The Lion King director, Rob Minkoff. The Modern Family TV star barked instead.
- John Goodman, The Hangover Part III, 20012. The Wolf Pack Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis) is back and Downey - and Sean Penn - topped their list for the gangster on their joint asses in this dark and dank franchise finale… Until they come back as senior citizens in 20 years. (You wanna bet?) Galifianakis made Due Date with Downey, 2009, and The Campaign, with Goodman in 2011.
- Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice, 2013. No, no, said Downey, nothing to do with schedules - the director, Paul Thomas Anderson, thought him too old! Plus he dearly wanted to work with Phoenix again after The Master, 2012.
- Chris Pratt, The Lego Movie, 2013. Would have made one hell of CV. Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes, Chaplin and… Lego’s Emmet Brickowoski!
- Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice, 2013. Downey left, he said, because director Paul Thomas Anderson said he was too old for drug-fueled 1970s’ LA detective Doc Sportello. Then again, PTA wanted to work with Phoenix again after The Master, 2011.
- Spencer Rocco LoFranco, The Life and Death of John Gotti, 2016. Like Johnny Depp, Downey downright refused The Son... Also in discussions about Gotti Jr - in what was then Gotti: In The Shadow Of My Father - were James Franco, Shia LaBeouf, Jeremy Renner, Channing Tatum, even the British Dominic Cooper. While Juniors, writers, directors (Nick Cassavetes, Barry Levinson) and the years sped by, John Travolta remained literally The Teflon Don as Gotti Sr, was known when the untouchable head of New York’s Gambino Mafia family. Also firm from Day One: Travolta’s wife and daughter, Kelly Preston and Ella Blue Travolta, playing Gotti’s wife and daughter. As for accessories, the ties were Gotti’s; the cars, Travolta’s. Oh, and Canada’s LoFranco was perfect for Travolta… unknown, far from A Lists or stealing movies.